Move over Facebook changed the way we use the internet-the ability to connect to not just “experts” but peers.• Basic stats – Founded in 2004 – More than 901 million monthly active users – available in 70 languages – approximately 80% of the monthly active users are outside the US and Canada
Facebook evolved from a way to connect tochildhood friends to a way to effect social change.
Even Uncle Sam got onboard…James K. Glassman, a formersenior State Department official,addressed a group of cyberactivists and stated, “You are thebest hope for us all,” Glassmancontinued to say site like Facebook“give the U.S. a significantcompetitive advantage overterrorists. Some time ago, I saidthat Al Qaeda was ‘eating ourlunch on the Internet.’ That is nolonger the case. Al Qaeda is stuckin Web 1.0. The Internet is nowabout interactivity andconversation.”
Facebook’s“Facebook has facilitated social interactions that wouldhave been otherwise impossible. I believe thatFacebook will continue to exist as a powerful means fortackling collective action issues.”-Randi Zuckerberg, who works on marketing, politics,current events and nonprofits for Facebook Inc ,
Democratization according to Facebook“Social media is inherently democratic since itallows people to produce, consume and sharecontent broadly For free. Giving people aplatform for discussion and coordination hastremendous ramifications for democratizationin Egypt and across the globe.” – RandiZuckerberg
Facebook’s Balancing Act“We want Facebook to be a place where people can openly discussissues and express their views, while respecting the rights and feelingsof others. With more than 500 million people now around the worldwith varying opinions and ideals using Facebook as a place to discussand share things that are important to them, we sometimes findpeople discussing and posting about controversial topics. Directstatements of hate against particular communities violate ourStatement of Rights and Responsibilities, the governing document forour site. These are removed when reported to us.” -Randi Zuckerberg
Meanwhile….• Sofiene Chourabi, a journalist for Al-Tariq al-Jadid magazine, believed that the Tunisian Internet Agency was behind hacking his personal Facebook and email. He stated "I think it is high time for Facebook and Google to take serious steps to protect Tunisian activists and journalists."
Facebook’s response to Tunisia ActivistsStefano Hesse, head ofcommunications for Europe,the Middle East and Africa forFacebook, made the followingstatement, "One thing needsto be clear: we, as Facebook,are not censoring any content,and we had not beenapproached by the localgovernment in order to doanything regarding anyone."
Is Facebook responsible for up holding theirbylaws that people must use their own namesor adapting for the safety of activistsworldwide?
Relationships are alwaystough. Facebook hasbeen struggling to “There’s a bit of schizophrenia in tryingbalance new to think that you’re operating a neutralrevolutionary platform. People at Facebook definitelyresponsibilities and have pro-freedom views. And there’scompany policy. also a desire to not get shut off,” says a former company official.
Facebook tookextra measures toprotect activists as confirmed inemails discovered by Newsweek.“We have put all the keypages into specialprotection… (a team)ismonitoring activity fromEgypt now on a 24/7 basis.” -Richard Allan, Facebook’sdirector of policy for Europe
The idea of temporary activismor slack-tivism, is thatparticipating in social media doesnot always translate to physicalchange. Arpit Mehta states,“People claiming to care aboutone issue or another will postchain-status-updates on theirwalls, or, "like" the Obama hopeposter, change their picture toshow their alliances, but fail tofollow through at the end of theday.”
In his article in the NewYorker, Malcom Gladwell,states, “Fifty years afterone of the mostextraordinary episodes ofsocial upheaval inAmerican history (civilrights movement), weseem to have forgottenwhat activism is.When a group of peopleoccupies one space, theybecome the collective.They become powerful.The energy of conflict andthe possible dangers ofaction are binding forcesthat cannot be recreatedon a profile page.
“Strong tie” phenomenon is the connection to a crucial orlynchpin friend is often at the heart of activism. They arthe key difference between participates who stayed andthose who left. The level of personal connection is oftentimes lost in Facebook. “Friends” can be anyone. IsFacebook activism as effective without “strong-ties”?
High Risk Activism Facebook Activism- heightened emotions/ personal trials bond -No physical presencemembers together -network created without central leadership, rules and hierarchy-Strategic with leadership, rules and hierarchy-physical energy created has lasting effects “It (social media) makes it easier for activists to express themselves, and harder for that expression to have any impact. The instruments of social media are well suited to making the existing social order more efficient.”- Malcom Gladwell
Biz Stone of Twiiter said, "Its important to credit the brave people that takechances to stand up to regimes. Theyre the star. What I like to think ofservices like Twitter and other services is that its kind of a supporting role.Were there to facilitate and to foster and to accelerate those folks missions."
Facebook is an excellent tool for creating a loose networkof people spanning the globe. It is a democratic processwhere every man/women is equal. It is accessible tomany spanning various social and economic backgrounds.It’s immediate and requires little financial burden tocauses.
But….It is not a replacement for high-risk activism. After organizing on theweb, there needs to be a strategy to have real life applications. Theeffectiveness of physical presence is often times lost in the WorldWide Web. We lose the sense of our power. The physical nature of ademonstration has an energy mark and is powerful.